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2021 IRS Contribution Limits For HSA, HDHP, FSA, 401(k), QSEHRA, Adoption and Transportation

Jeff Griffin

The IRS recently finalized adjustments to 2021 contribution limits on various tax-advantaged health and dependent care spending accounts, retirement plans, and other employee benefits such as adoption assistance and qualified transportation benefits. Many of these contribution limits, though not all, are indexed to cost-of-living adjustments.

Together, these annual announcements by the IRS detail any adjusted limits to the amounts employees can tuck away pretax into Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs), Health Savings Accounts (HSAs), Commuter Benefits, and Retirement Plans such as 401(k)s for the upcoming year.

While IRS limits for HSAs are required, by law, to be announced by June 1st, limits for these other pretax savings vehicles always seem to come so late in the year that many employers have already completed their employee benefits open enrollments.

As frustrating as this is, employers would be well-served to get this information out to their employees so they can take full advantage of these pretax savings vehicles. That said, there are not all that many changes for 2021.

What follows is a summary of limits employers and employees need to know.

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Topics: Compliance, Employee Communications, HSAs, Retirement Planning, HDHPs, FSAs

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Five Ways to Support Your Employees This Election Season

Jeff Griffin

Voter turnout in the 2018 election was the highest our country has seen for a midterm election in the last century. Despite this, voter turnout in the U.S. remains lower than in other developed countries. In fact, during the past century, U.S. voter participation has hovered within a 12-percentage point range, from just under 50% in 1924 when Calvin Coolidge won, to over 61.6% in 2008, when Barack Obama won the White House.

While many factors contributed to the record rate of participation in the 2018 midterms, one notable action was that hundreds of companies, including Gap, Patagonia, and Target, encouraged their employees to vote. (Some companies even launched voting programs directed towards their consumers.)

As we've addressed in other blog posts, this dynamic of politics in the workplace requires delicate handling. After all, taking a partisan approach to civic engagement can alienate both employees and customers in today's hyper-partisan environment.

Nevertheless, a Harvard Business Review study suggests a "sweet spot" for companies who want to support the vote: being pro-democracy and pro-voter, without being partisan. Furthermore, there's evidence that companies who support and encourage political engagement derive a multitude of benefits.

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Topics: Company Culture, Paid Time Off (PTO), Social Media, Mental Health

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The Growing Incompatibility of Social Media and Workplace Mental Health

Jeff Griffin

A global pandemic. Social unrest. A presidential election. Now a Supreme Court confirmation. A perfect storm if ever there was one. Never before have I seen the country so divided over such a confluence of events, and never before have I seen such tremendous stress placed upon our collective workplace and individual mental health. I see it in my family, my friends, my neighbors, and even my employees.

With this in mind, I sat down over the weekend to watch a new Netflix documentary called The Social Dilemma. Frequent readers of this blog know that I've never really used it in the past to recommend a particular piece of media, except for some excellent Ted Talks related to the workplace and others tangentially related to employee benefits.

Nevertheless, I found The Social Dilemma so riveting, so concerning, and so timely, that I feel compelled to recommend that everyone sit down with their families and watch this film. In fact, I'm asking my entire workforce to do just the same.

This documentary cuts between "conscientious Silicon Valley defectors" from Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Google to sound the alarm about the incursion of data mining and manipulative technology into our social lives and beyond.

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Topics: wellness, Social Media, Mental Health, COVID-19

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Working Parents Struggle With Caregiving And Childcare In Midst of Pandemic

Jeff Griffin

Even before the pandemic hit, working parents struggled to meet the needs of their employers and families. Then came the school and daycare closings, and working parents who were already at their breaking points got pushed even further. 

Seven months into the pandemic, things aren't much better for this group of caregivers. With most child care centers still closed around the country and the vast majority of schools practicing remote learning, working parents are dealing with the overwhelming task of once again juggling caregiving and work responsibilities as we head into the Fall.

And while much attention has been given to parents trying to balance their professional responsibilities with home-schooling and taking care of their children, there are also millions of people who are juggling remote work and eldercare for aging parents and other relatives.

Balancing work and caregiving responsibilities is contributing to decreased productivity, poor mental health, and increased stress among employees. All this is leading to lower morale, higher absenteeism, an increased risk for all sorts of health conditions, and higher health care costs.

Just consider a few of the stunning findings from a survey from Boston Consulting Group (BCG), conducted earlier this summer;

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Topics: COVID-19

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Cost of Employee Benefits: What Does the Average Employer Spend?

Jeff Griffin

When helping employers cultivate employee benefits packages, we’re often asked to aggregate insights on what their peers are spending on their benefit programs. The answers vary widely based on multiple factors, including geography, industry, size of the workforce, the overall health of the workforce population, and the health of their respective businesses and the economy.

Employee benefits benchmarking is one of the best ways to figure this out and the best way to get at this data is through a combination of public and proprietary information (the latter of which can be costly, but also quite necessary).

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Topics: Employee Benefits, Audits, CFO, employers, CHRO, Voluntary Benefits, Ancillary Benefits, Worksite Benefits

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Pandemic-Driven Changes To Employee Benefits for 2021

Jeff Griffin

Last week we addressed how this open enrollment season is shaping up to be like no other benefits enrollment period we've ever experienced. In that blog post, we offered a number of suggestions for how employers can best prepare for the choppy seas which lie ahead.

This week we want to share the shifts we're seeing in the employee benefits employers are offering, due to the altered landscape brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic; from products and services to policies and medical premiums.

What we've found to be most surprising is that despite some companies cutting costs through layoffs, furloughs, cuts in pay, and reductions to 401(k) matching programs, employers who can afford to do so are broadening their benefit programs due to the pandemic.  

Here are some of the most significant changes we're helping our clients roll-out.

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Topics: COVID-19

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A Brief History of Employer-Sponsored Healthcare [From the 1930s to Now]

David Rook

A Brief History of Employer-Sponsored Healthcare [From the 1930s to Now]

As Americans continue to debate the impact of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), perhaps a quick look at the historical timeline of employer-sponsored healthcare will provide context for the state of American healthcare as it exists today.

Small Beginnings

Before the 1930s, the American public largely paid its own way where medical costs were concerned. With the exception of a few industries, employers by and large had little motivation to provide health coverage. Americans who worked in dangerous professions like mining, steel, and railroads had access to company doctors in industrial clinics or union-operated infirmaries. Though this was not healthcare as it exists today, these company-sponsored clinics were some of the earliest precedents of businesses becoming involved in their employees’ well-being.

employer sponsored healthcare ebook

The '30s: The Great Depression

After his election to the presidency in 1932, Franklin D. Roosevelt chose not to pursue universal healthcare coverage. Several factors influenced his decision, not the least of which was major opposition from the American Medical Association. Roosevelt toyed with the idea of nationalizing healthcare as part of his plan for Social Security. However, he was a politically astute man, and he realized that tying universal health coverage to the Social Security Act might doom both initiatives to failure.

Of course, Roosevelt's decision left unresolved the pressing need of many Americans for some way to deal with healthcare costs. In the grips of the Great Depression, many were hard pressed to find money for essentials like food and shelter. Healthcare often fell by the wayside for families working to access the basic necessities of life. 

Into this environment came the beginnings of private health insurance. Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans paved the way for private insurers to begin crafting plans to meet the needs of the growing market. Still, at this stage, employers were not generally in the picture, and these original health insurance offerings were purchased almost exclusively by individuals.

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Topics: Affordable Care Act, Education

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Preparing for an Unprecedented Benefits Open Enrollment

Jeff Griffin

Fall is just around the corner, which also means we're about to enter an employee benefits open enrollment season like no other that has come before. Many organizations are still operating fully remote. Others are still trying their best to reopen as safely as possible amid mixed messages and fluid guidelines from state and local governments.

Suffice to say, open enrollment planning is the last thing on anyone's mind, except that is, for your employees, who are more concerned than ever about having the right coverage and savings options in place during these uncertain times.

Procrastinating or allowing yourself to get too distracted from benefit decisions and enrollment planning is a recipe for disaster, given what's at stake this open enrollment season.

Here's what we're seeing out there and our advice on how best to prepare for open enrollment.

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Topics: Communications, open enrollment, COVID-19

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Six Things Employers Can Likely Expect From Congress's Phase 4 COVID-19 Relief Bill

Jeff Griffin

As of yesterday, Congress is back in session, but only for a few short weeks. If lawmakers can work together to produce another COVID-19 relief package, it's likely to be the last major piece of legislation passed before the 2020 election.

With prior stimulus measures slated to expire over the next few weeks, the economy continuing to falter as the pandemic resurges across the country, and a presidential election looming, the stakes simply couldn't be any higher.

Back in May, the House of Representatives passed its Phase 4 bill, known as the HEROES Act. The bill has been up for review since early July, though Senate Republicans, who prefer a measure with a far more tempered price tag, have been reluctant to consider it.

The House's $3.5 trillion relief bill would extend enhanced unemployment benefits, offer additional direct payments to taxpayers, and provide assistance to state and local governments, among other things.

The Senate is expected to introduce their own version of a relief bill this week that will have to be reviewed and negotiated between the two chambers before they recess in early August.

Several economic proposals impacting small and midsize businesses have been gaining consensus among lawmakers for weeks, so the final version of the Senate bill could contain elements of all of them.

Here are six things employers can likely expect from the Phase 4 bill; 

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Topics: Legislation, COVID-19, Coronavirus

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Five Ways COVID-19 Is Reshaping HR

Jeff Griffin

With fluctuating infection rates, predictions of a second wave, and conflicting official guidance, organizations need to adapt quickly if they want to survive, yet alone succeed in the midst of, and even after, the coronavirus pandemic subsides.

HR teams stand at the forefront of these efforts. For years, HR departments have been tasked with ushering in fundamental workplace changes, and this moment is no different.

While this list could be far longer, here are just five ways the coronavirus is reshaping HR and how departments can adapt to these new challenges.

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Topics: Company Culture, Telecommuting, FMLA, COVID-19

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